5 Things to Know in Australia Today

Hello and welcome to your Friday tech news briefing.

1. Is the foldable Pixel actually coming?

Brought to our attention by The Vergeleaks appear to reveal what to expect from Google’s long-rumoured foldable phone. Leaker OnLeaks has teamed up with the website HowToiSolve to share renders, a 360-degree video and measurements of the foldable Pixel device. According to the reports, the phone will apparently have a 5.79-inch cover screen and a larger 7.69-inch inner screen, meaning it will function more like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4, which has a cover screen, than Microsoft’s Surface Duo phones.

2. Chrome to become less of a memory hog

Still on Google, and the company has announced Chrome will now be optimised for your device’s battery and system memory. With the latest release of Chrome on desktop comes the introduction of two new performance settings so Chrome uses up to 40 per cent and 10GB less memory to keep your tabs running and extend your battery when it’s running low. What that means is that Browsing with Google Chrome on your desktop should be a bit smoother and more battery efficient. Memory Saver and Energy Saver modes will roll out over the next several weeks globally for Windows, macOS and ChromeOS.

3. Apple kills controversial photo-scanning tool

Apple has officially killed one of its most controversial proposals ever: a plan to scan iCloud images for signs of child sexual abuse material (or, CSAM). Last year, Apple announced that it would be rolling out on-device scanning — a new feature in iOS that used advanced tech to quietly sift through individual users’ photos for signs of bad material. The new feature was designed so that, should the scanner find evidence of CSAM, it would alert human technicians, who would then presumably alert the police. The plan immediately inspired a torrential backlash from privacy and security experts, with critics arguing that the scanning feature could ultimately be re-purposed to hunt for other kinds of content and that even having such scanning capabilities in iOS was a slippery slope towards broader surveillance abuses. The general consensus was that it could quickly become a backdoor for police.

4. FTC sues to prevent Microsoft’s Activision deal

Earlier this year, Microsoft broke the internet with the announcement that it had plans to acquire Activision Blizzard for a whopping $US69 billion (around $96 billion). Since the announcement, Microsoft has come under scrutiny from government officials in the U.S. and abroadsome of whom feel the deal would heavily tip the scales in Microsoft’s favour against its competitors. But now, as Kotaku Australia reportsthe U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued to block the acquisition on the grounds that the deal would threaten to suppress competition within the gaming industry. According to the FTC, Microsoft would be able to stifle its competitors by making games Xbox exclusives and manipulating game prices, should the deal go through.

5. DeepMind’s AlphaCode can outcompete human coders

When it comes to tracking the incremental advances of AI potential, humans have an odd tendency to think in terms of boardgames we probably haven’t played since childhood. Though there’s no shortage of examples, even recent ones, highlighting AI’s ability to utterly own the cardboard gaming space, those tests only go so far in illustrating the tech’s effectiveness at solving real-world problems. A potentially far better “challenge,” would be to put an AI side by side with humans in a programming competition. Alphabet-owned DeepMind did just that with its AlphaCode model. The results? Well, AlphaCode performed well but not exceptional. The model’s overall performance, according to a paper published in Science shared with Gizmodo, corresponds to a “novice programmer” with a few months to a year of training. The future is wild.

BONUS ITEM: Frozen food has been named dish of the year and turns out I am ahead of a culinary trend for once.


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